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You Never Change; You Always Change

I listen to Krista Tippet’s On Being podcast in which she interviews someone usually about spiritual matters. Her interviews make me think. Often I mull over what was said for a couple of days or longer. The best ones stay with me.

Recently I listened to her interview with Alain de Botton who wrote the article, Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person, the most popular NY Times article of 2016.

The interview and his article bring stories to mind. The first ones are of my parents. They were in love but totally unsuited. He was deeply introverted (INFP) and avoided groups while she was an extreme extrovert (ESFP) and loved parties. But they stayed together through their ups and downs. Neither ever stopped thinking the other one would one day change. Mama thought she could change Daddy into a man who loved parties, people, dancing – all the things she loved. He thought that one day she’d settle down and not need to socialize so much. They each changed, of course, but not in the way the other wanted.

When I was in my 30’s, they were having some difficulties of which I was unaware until my cousin Louella phoned and said my parents needed me. She said Mama was staying with her and didn’t want to go home. What?

I drove to Salisbury from Atlanta and talked with both of them but neither could tell me what the issue was and I didn’t press. I didn’t want to know. I wanted them to know I loved them and was there if they needed me.

I remember talking to my father …. very uncomfortably … about what was going on. He looked at me and after a pause said , ‘your mother just isn’t the same girl I married.’

I don’t know if he saw the shock on my face. I didn’t say what I was thinking which was ‘my God, did you expect her to stay a 22-year old girl forever?’

Mama came back home and life resumed. I went back to Atlanta having never learned what made Mama camp out with Louella. Maybe Mama woke up one morning and realized she’d married the wrong person. But luckily she wasn’t twenty-two years old and starry eyed. She knew they loved each other and had a life together. Still …. neither gave up on the idea the other would change.